The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0286  Thursday, 27 October 2011

[1] From:         Mac Jackson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         October 14, 2011 3:51:22 AM EDT

     Subject:      Thomas of Woodstock


[2] From:         Bob Grumman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         October 7, 2011 5:31:26 PM EDT

     Subject:      The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0286  Thursday, 27 October 2011


[3] From:         Peter Groves <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         October 8, 2011 2:12:05 AM EDT

     Subject:      Thomas of Woodstock


[4] From:         Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         October 8, 2011 7:51:22 AM EDT

     Subject:      Re: Woodstock 


[5] From:         Gerald E. Downs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         October 14, 2011 11:37:32 PM EDT

     Subject:      Thomas of Woodstock v. John of Bordeaux 




From:         Mac Jackson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         October 14, 2011 3:51:22 AM EDT

Subject:      Thomas of Woodstock


Michael Egan has mentioned my name repeatedly in his posts on Woodstock. But he keeps misrepresenting what I have written, even after I have attempted to correct him. He says “Mac Jackson tries to turn 1 Richard II into a manuscript written by Sam Rowley in his own handwriting ca. 1608.” This is not so. I specifically state that the handwriting of the Woodstock manuscript is not Rowley’s. What I do claim is that since this is the case, the various orthographical features that link the manuscript to Rowley cannot be explained as the result of his merely acting as a “creative copyist,” as David Lake (who first noted several of these features), originally suggested, but must be the result of the unknown scribe’s having transcribed a manuscript by Rowley. Lake later came to realize that his evidence pointed to Rowley’s authorship of the play.


I haven’t contradicted myself on this matter. Nor is it true that I fail to take account of A. C. Partridge’s chapter on Woodstock. While I agree with Partridge and the Malone Society editor Wilhelmina Frijlinck that not everything in the extant manuscript was penned at the same time, none of Partridge’s evidence for “stratification” demonstrates that the play was in existence in the early 1590s. Some contractions and linguistic forms were already in use in English drama in the early 1590s and some did not come into use till much later, but all those that were available in the early 1590s remained in use well into the seventeenth century. 


Anybody who wants to know what I have said about Woodstock should read my articles, not rely on Michael Egan’s accounts of them. They are in Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 14 (2002), Research Opportunities in Medieval and Renaissance Drama 46 (2007), and The Oxfordian 12 (2010). And I have the electronic texts that I submitted to the editors of these journals, should any interested scholar have difficulty getting hold of the journals themselves.


I’m sure Michael will have something to say in reply, but, whatever it turns out to be, I predict that my answer will already be somewhere in my three articles and am happy to let readers assess for themselves the evidence for Woodstock’s authorship and date of composition. They may reach different conclusions from mine. But, to summarize, I think the evidence I adduce (a) tells strongly against Shakespeare’s authorship of Woodstock at any stage of his career, (b) tells scarcely less strongly against a date of composition preceding that of Shakespeare’s Richard II (1595), and (c) indicates, though not decisively, Samuel Rowley’s authorship of the play in the seventeenth century. Originally my main interest was in demonstrating point “b” and so overturning a consensus based, I thought, on inadequate evidence. Michael, on the other hand, knows that Woodstock was written by Shakespeare in the early 1590s. I have found reading Kathryn Schulz’s excellent Being Wrong an antidote to this kind of certainty. 



Mac Jackson



From:         Bob Grumman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         October 7, 2011 5:31:26 PM EDT

Subject:      Thomas of Woodstock


To Michael Egan, who said, “You seem to be saying that I belittle the opinions of people who argue with me without having actually read my book. What would you have me do?”: I would have you admit that you were wrong to imply that a person has to have read a book in order to make intelligent comments about it. 


To Donald Bloom, who thinks a moratorium might be in order concerning Woodstock, I have to say, “Aw, don’t be a spoilsport.”  (Unfortunately, I‘m the sort who loves exchanges as beastly as this one, or worse.)


To Joe Egert, Gabriel Egan’s offer is generous since it requires time to make a copy of a book available.  It’s also sensible since Michael Egan seems unable to get people to spend the large amount required to get a copy of his book (which he seems very eager to have in people’s hands).  Expecting Gabriel Egan to do the same thing with his books is foolish since they are no doubt much less expensive, and with more than enough appeal not to need special actions to get them read.


To Gabriel Egan, a little late: I’d love to have a copy of the article you said you’d send to anyone requesting it, if the offer still holds.  My address is 1708 Hayworth Road, Port Charlotte FL 33952.


--Bob Grumman



From:         Peter Groves <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         October 8, 2011 2:12:05 AM EDT

Subject:      Thomas of Woodstock


The problem with having no ear for verse is that the sufferer cannot understand the helpful corrections that may be offered him or her.  M. Egan persists in the claim that “apparrel [sic] elided sounds like apple because of the initial vowel AP followed by [slur] and ending with L.”  Clearly he cannot hear that the two words are stressed differently, and that APple is in consequence never going to be confused with apPAr’l.  Similarly he cannot hear that “Exc’llent Tresillian!  Noble Lord Chief Justice” is a perfectly normal iambic pentameter with initial reversal and ‘feminine ending’ (c.p. Lear’s “Gentle, and low -- an exc’llent thing in woman”; for trisyllabic Tresillian, compare disyllabic million in “That millions of strange shadows on you tend?” (Sonnet 53).


Peter Groves

Monash University



From:         Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         October 8, 2011 7:51:22 AM EDT

Subject:      Re: Woodstock


Michael Egan explains why he wants me to apologize for lying about him:


> The lie, Sir, as you well know, is not

> in . . . but the way you ignore that

> format of the whole exchange . . .


That’s not lying. You could accuse me of misleading people by omitting a pertinent detail, but just what counts as pertinent is a judgement call. We disagree, that’s all.


I suggested Michael Egan try publishing his ideas in academic journals. He replies that he has published articles in “The Oxfordian”, of which he is the editor. That doesn’t count, Michael, since readers will rightly judge that you have a conflict of interest. The trick in publishing articles is to convince other people to disseminate your ideas, not to convince yourself.


Michael Egan asks how I came to possess a digital copy of his book. The answer is that when I received my review copy I tore the covers off, cut away the spine, and put the resulting sheets into a sheet-feeding high-speed scanner. I do that to all my books.


I’m delighted to hear that Michael Egan is not against my distributing this digital file, subject to his checking that it doesn’t misrepresent the book’s contents and that Edwin Mellen Press don’t mind. Splendid!  I have sent him a link to download the digital file and await his verdict.


Regarding digitization, Joe Egert asks a pertinent question:


> Are any of Gabriel Egan's books available

> online free of charge? Perhaps he can take

> the Open Access route and arrange such with

> his publishers.


One of my books is available this way, and I’m seeking to achieve the same for the rest. Except where the publishers have prohibited it, all my publications and talks are available for anyone to download from www.gabrielegan.com/publications.


It’s hard work to get publishers to change their business models to reflect the inevitability of Open Access dissemination of academic research. But progress is being made. The UK government is spending half a million pounds on a pilot project involving Humanities and Social Science monographs published by Palgrave Macmillan, Taylor & Francis, Berg, Liverpool University Press and University Wales Press. Google ‘OAPEN-UK’ for details.


Gabriel Egan



From:         Gerald E. Downs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         October 14, 2011 11:37:32 PM EDT

Subject:      Thomas of Woodstock v. John of Bordeaux


Though interest in Thomas of Woodstock may tail off, the manuscript is important. But the attribution case is premature without study of the artifact's derivation, which begins outside Michael Egan's edition (and its critics). Many features of Woodstock may be explained by comparison with a more informative manuscript; namely, John of Bordeaux.


I wouldn't care to impede inquiry into Woodstock's authorship; but a hypothesis may be too rigidly defended even if it can't be eliminated. I'm not opposed to the idea that Shakespeare might have written a play which is now corruptly represented in manuscript; the question may be decided one day. But the originating author is probably far removed from what is left us. Whether Shakespeare wrote the earliest version matters, but that version is lost forever; what matters more is whether the text can help us learn the history of others. Perhaps it can, and we may even learn from such investigations just how theater was done; I think Woodstock is a recording because I'm pretty sure Bordox is a theatrical report.


I discuss that case in "Memorial Transmission, Shorthand, and John of Bordeaux," Studies in Bibliography 58, 109 - 132. My early (late) reading in Shakespeare gravitated toward some old scholarship before I learned that later scholarship had made some turns. Though forgotten, the shorthand alternative has always seemed viable to me: nevertheless I expected not to encounter a playtext comprising the strong evidence necessary to establish theatrical reporting as reality. That's what Bordox did for me. But for Harry R Hoppe, the Robert Greene play was an example of memorial reconstruction, which should have been a no-veil-of-print big deal. However, since MR ruled the waves, Bordox became merely another "bad quarto that never reached print."


But bad quartos come, hypothetically, with differences. One is that a memorial reconstruction stands alone; it doesn't really predict another. And too, a memorial reconstruction only suggests the ways of performance; its text may be ignored, more or less, by modern theatrical-historical-comical imaginations. A stenographic report is much more meaningful. First, for a competent practitioner it would be more like swimming laps than swimming the English Channel; done once, done a hundred times. Second, the recording would be of actors in action; not memorex, but not bad, as gold and opportunities go (Hendiadys Alert !!).


Further, a competent phonetic report raises an important, perhaps a disturbing question. Bad quartos are so-called for their badness, but defined by memorial transmission. Where do we draw the lines? Bordox, for all its goofiness, is easy to edit and credibly captures the complete dialogue. What if had been better played, recopied, revised and printed? Who would suspect a memorial past? How many plays fall into this category?


The question can never be answered, but there are quite a number of plays that will be seen as transitional if Bordox is taken as well-reported. The mysterious supply has explanation. My interest is in the identifiable features of suspect texts that can be explained or accommodated by shorthand reporting and by comparisons to Bordox. I will try to apply the idea to Woodstock (as I go along, though some matters seem clear to me). May as well start with the oddest bibliographic feature of the manuscript (that is, the oddity most in need of explanation before other guesses can take root). Other commentators give it a pass.


The speech headings (prefixes, ascriptions) were added subsequent to the transcription of dialogue; though sometimes in the same ink, and sometimes in other hands and inks. Sometimes ascriptions are omitted; sometimes altered; at times wrong (how wrong, we can't know). Michael Egan suggests that Shakespeare himself supervised this strange process. Is it credible that any playwright wrote without assigning speeches? Or that he would allow another to transcribe a play only to pester everyone with such confusion? It is not a matter of keeping prefixes for last; they were determined by the dialogue, and they often waited on later and (hopefully) better judgment. Why was this necessary?


One answer (a good one) is supplied by John of Bordeaux. G I Duthie assumed that a "stenographer . . . had to pause to identify and note down the name of the character speaking." But if we pause to think like the guy who got it done, the significant pause was the actor's. When it happened, the artisan marked a change of speaker and he didn't give a hoot who was speaking. He might even be wrong about the change; that would all come out in the wash. Here is a typical transcription from Bordox (believe me, the first I come to; I really like the scribe (the stenographer, no doubt, whose debt will never be repaid):


[Bold added by a later theatrical reviser (one of the receivers of stolen property)].


>ux < e> Cristian Cheftaynes let not Curradg fayle

         all though o[r superscript] foos [if the foo shits . . .] be numberles in vew o[r etc.] quariels Iust and

         god will straunthen ous) souldier) ha lord Ienerall o[r] men ar

         wasted sore) bordiox and what of that can we not Levie mor [I was Levied once myself]

         let ous that live contem ther heugie [I was heugie once myself] ost and hould or one vntell

         more sucker [ . . . you guessed it] cam mene whiell I will inform his maiestie


The right-hand parentheses set off the 'souldier' 'prefix,' though one parenthesis serves for 'bordiux'. In other instances the mark serves for nought, prefixly; but for later transcribers it can be recognized as punctuating an actual pause in performance, which anticipated a change of speaker that may not have happened. Consider Woodstock 1957ff:


        K                                                                 . . . 1950

                       cornewall, those parte are thyne /          1957

                    __as Ample Baggot as the crowne is myne /

Bag: [Scro:]  __all thanks, loue duety to my princly soueraigne

        K:            Bushy; from thee shall



Different hands, different inks, different headings. The slashes seem analogous to the Bordox parentheses; They are not likely a playwright's punctuation meant to tell the player when to pause, but the player's pause turned into punctuation. What an actor needs is punctuation for meaning; he will supply the action, thanks. Here the punctuation is not as scarce as in Bordox but it is worth little, though the manuscript improves on the Bordox quality; much of the corruption seems vestigial, as would occur in the transcription indicated by the speech ascription process. (That is, a transcription of shorthand notes that looked like Bordox would, if it were the copy-text for another transcription, come to look like Woodstock: improved, but still faulty). It's only a few copies down the road to modern editions, from which the clues are diligently expunged.


Repairs to (or creation of) speech headings can generally be made without error, but care must be taken. Dramatists usually named major characters in dialogue (initially, and later on) to guide the auditor; so the reconstructors are guided. Some characters need no names; some get more than one designation. But the process is geared to the next performance and the transcribing of roles; authors (and author-hunters) need not apply.


The same may be said of the set directions. A good indicator in Woodstock is at MSR 117. The entries for Woodstock himself and "The Lord Mayre & Exton . . ." precedes Woodstock's turn from his brothers:


            Ile speake wth you anan: / hye thee good Exton

            good lord mayre I doe beseech ye prossecute

            wth yor best care . . .         124

            . . . pray be carefull            132

Mayre:  yor ffreends are Greate in London. good my lord   ___________

            Ile front all Dangers, trust it on my word             {Exitt L: May<


Editors have recognized Holinshed's report that the Mayor of London was Richard Exton; the dialogue had led the scribe to think two persons were represented. For all we know, it was played that way subsequently; but it is quite unlikely that the author would have written or overseen the entries.


For this reason (apparently), Michael Egan remarks (ad voleam) that there were two characters after all: "However, the original (sic) MS. seems unequivocally to indicate two men . . . . "It's not clear to what passage(s) in Holinshed [Rossiter] refers" (Egan, v. 3, 59). Egan repeats this opinion so much that I was drawn to my copy of Holinshed (same as yours, Googlers), where the 1807/1586 reprint has this narration:


"But the duke comming by some meanes to vnderstand of this wicked practise, had no desire to take part of that supper, where such sharpe sauce was prouided, and withall gaue warning to the residue, that they likewise should not come there, but to content themselues with their owne suppers at their lodgings. It was said, that sir Nicholas Brember, who had beene maior the yeare before, had promised his assistance in the execution of this horrible fact: but thorough the commendable constancie of Richard Exton that was maior this yeare being mooued by the king for his furtherance therein, and denieng flatlie to consent to the death of such innocent persons, that heinous practise was omitted (774).


(A marginal notation in Holinshed reads, "Richard Exton justlie commended," for dramatists to note. If one opts for the "plain text" the margins are melded into the rest, for plain confusion. "Image" will get closer to the primary evidence).


Holinshed is even less unequivocal than the dialogue, though equally unique. The set direction is a mistaken bit of workmanship, for which there was probably no guidance other than the manuscript. Not the original, to be sure, sort of. I will say something about that next time.


Gerald E. Downs

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